Something Farshtunkene* in Lakewood

When news broke last year that the FBI raided homes of 26 Lakewood ultra-Orthodox residents on charges of wrongfully collecting Medicaid, food stamps, SNAP, and SSI benefits, as well as evading property taxes that fund schools and municipal activities (see here), New Jersey Comptroller Philip J. Degnan’ issued a statement that said participants must make “full restitution of all improperly received funds.” Unless, that is, if you’re a Lakewood Board of Education member. Or maybe just …

Charter School Review Must Address Funding Bias Against Charter Schools

This is a press release from the New Jersey Charter School Association. Those interested in the state’s “comprehensive review” of NJ charter schools can submit written feedback and attend meetings. For information about how you can contribute, click here. (And do it soon! The DOE has established a very short window for accepting comments.)  For my own concerns about the Murphy Administration’s oversight of the charter sector, see my column today in NJ Spotlight. Charter …

Governor Phil Murphy Does Not “Eliminate PARCC Day One.” Here’s the Compromise.

The New Jersey Board of Education and Education Commissioner Lamont Repollet have reached a compromise on PARCC testing. (See here for the contentious background.) Repollet wanted, per Governor Murphy’s promise to NJEA, to reduce the number of end-of-course tests that students take in high school from six to two. (Those tests would be 10th grade English language arts and Algebra 1, which some students take in 8th or 9th grade). Advocates for educational improvement wanted …

This NJ Spotlight Op-Ed is Wrong.

Scott Taylor, the superintendent of the Highland Park school district, has an op-ed in today’s NJ Spotlight that argues that the New Jersey State Board of Education should eliminate all high school diploma-qualifying tests. This is a suggestion we’ve heard before and there are reasonable arguments for both sides. However, Mr. Taylor runs into unreasonable territory when he declares that the primary reason for eliminating all diploma tests is because New Jersey schools are so …

New Jersey Has One of the Lowest Rates of Inclusion of Special Education Students in America. A New Report Explains What We’re Doing Wrong.

A new report called “An Advocate’s Guide to Transforming Special Education” by the nonprofit group Innovate Public Schools (IPS) doesn’t mince words: students with disabilities are segregated into classrooms with low expectations, “regardless of how moderate their disability may be.” Families and advocates are often “dismissed and ignored.”Special needs children, especially those of color, are systematically relegated to lower tracks, regardless of cognitive potential, all in violation of the basic tenet of federal law that children …

Ed Comm. Repollet Goes For the “Soft Bigotry of Low Expectations” but State Board of Education Refuses to Play – For Now.

Last month the State Board of Education considered some big changes to our requirements for a high school diploma. The recommendations were proffered by Education Commissioner Lamont Repollet and were widely anticipated to be adopted during the meeting. But that didn’t happen. Instead, the Board wisely decided to delay the decision and continue discussions in September. They must know that there’s far more at stake than rejiggering standardized tests that NJEA, Education Law Center, and …

Update on Firings at the NJ Department of Education: Staffers Respond

There’s been much interest in my post ten days ago about the firing of 40 staff members from the state Department of Education. Since the post went up I’ve received numerous emails from staff members, some who were fired and some still there. All  requested anonymity. Here’s a summary of what I’ve been told. In a sign of the personal and/or political nature of the firings, several days later the DOE put up postings to …

Here’s Some News You Missed: 40 Staff Members Fired from NJ Department of Education

News of major changes in New Jersey’s public education system typically blare on major (and minor) news sites. So here’s a scoop that I’d rather not have:  on July 20th, eleven days ago, approximately 40 people were unceremoniously fired from their posts at the Department of Education.  I spoke to one of them, a mid-level manager at the Office of Comprehensive Support, a division of the DOE that serves our lowest-performing districts and provides, according …

Guest Post: Lakewood Yeshivas are “Day Care Centers” Until Proven Otherwise

Michael Hoban was an educator for 48 years, teaching at the elementary, high school and university levels.  He was a university professor of mathematics for 35 years, is a Professor Emeritus at the City University of NY, and has lived in Lakewood for 14 years. Prof. Hoban is the senior educational consultant to Lakewood U.N.I.T.E., the group that advocates for minority families in Lakewood. This post originally appeared in the Asbury Park Press. In the 7/24/2018 edition of the …

Yes, Governor, Your Obsession with PARCC is Wasteful and Misguided.

“It isn’t today,” he said in an appearance at the Golden Nugget casino. “I still don’t like it. And I’m not gonna wake up someday and become a fan of PARCC. I’m not anti-assessment. … But I’m no fan of PARCC.” That’s Gov. Murphy commenting on yesterday’s news that New Jersey is shortening federally-required annual assessments aligned with state standards and eliminating four of the six assessments required for high school graduation. This, according to …